I am a huge fan of Clavell and also of John Lee's narration of other Clavell books.
Fundamentally yes, but having read most of James Clavell's more epic works set in Asia, this one was not up to that standard. What I have always enjoyed about his major characters is their bred-in-the-bone instinct for survival in wildly perilous situations. These characters were the opposite: in wildly perilous circumstances, they did one fantastically dumb thing after the next, though they do this heroically. That makes for a much less interesting story than when characters survive by guile.
Great story, great writing, great narration. Against the backdrop of the Depression, the deep determination of these boys, especially Joe, on whom the story centers, is absolutely riveting. The author is a master storyteller, and his tale is compelling, uplifting, and rich with the flavor of those times. Loved Edward Hermann as a narrator, and my standards for narrators are high. This is the best book I've listened to in recent memory.
I have to admit that I didn't get that far into this book before deciding that the dissonance of the narrator's American accent swamped my determination to differentiate and get to know these characters.
Contrast the narration of Antony and Cleo to the brilliant performance of Simon Jones reading Robert Harris's Imperium series -- or don't, as Simon Jones and his ilk are so much better at bringing characters to life through nuance in speech that comparison would be odious. The best of the British readers are able to define a great deal about a character by dialect and patois, making it much easier to keep track of a vast cast in a long story. In my experience listening to "Rome-themed" books, American narrators who would be perfectly acceptable reading a contemporary novel rarely ring true reading characters from ancient history. I found myself having to rewind again and again to recall who was speaking, and I finally gave up. It didn't help that the story wasn't immediately compelling.
So what if taking the story forward relies on one highly improbable coincidence after the next. It's good fun anyway!
My prior knowledge of Cicero was gleaned entirely from his fairly minor role in HBO's bawdy, totally over-the-top series "Rome," so I can't begin to comment on the historical accuracy of this fictionalized biography, but I loved it! The storytelling was oddly riveting, especially considering how mundane the details of Cicero's law practice must have been in reality, and the narration was nothing short of brilliant. I gulped this down and went straight to gorging on Conspirata. Can't wait for the next installment.
The story started out in a promising way, but the plot became complicated without being commensurately clever. There were quite a few characters whose motives were rather vague, and there were none that I pine to hear from again in future books. The story itself wouldn't have earned four stars from me, but it got an extra star for what struck me as authenticity in descriptions of the medieval setting. It was well read, so don't hesitate to try it if you are a fan of historical fiction.
Where to start? When the series started, Griffin could spend 100 pages describing a day in the life of his characters and keep me interested in what was going to happen to them the next day. Then out of the blue, with this "afterthought" of a conclusion, we pick up the story years later in a different war and speed recklessly to a conclusion that leaves me desperately wishing I had just finished this tale in my own mind instead of entrusting it to the actual author.
Of course. I can forgive him a lot for having told a damn good yarn up to this point.
There were promising elements in the storyline, but the telling was ham-handed, and had all the finesse of a violent video game.
A performer can only do so much with the material he's given.
I was certainly shocked that this book had received such good reviews from other listeners.
Elizabeth Gilbert deserves an A for effort, and clearly her talent is considerable, but by the halfway mark, I just didn't care any more what happened to any of her characters. There wasn't enough "story" to animate the book's huge mass. By hour 12, I wished I could get a short, tidy condensation of the rest of the story
It had its moments, but fundamentally, no.
Seriously? What more could possibly be said?
Report Inappropriate Content